Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Radio on the web

Good presentation by Robin Lubbock, the director of New Media at WBUR, showing how putting radio on the internet is helping the radio networks take off. Lubbock's presentation focused specifically on how the internet is helping WBUR, but his point was universal: By using computers as radios, and adopting the unimedia approach, radio content can be expanded beyond what you hear in the car. You can choose what you want to hear, whenever you want to hear it. The internet is making radio bigger.

An example of this is the Worldwide Leader in Sports. ESPN has a prominent radio network, used to broadcast sports events and sports talk shows, such as "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" and the "Mike and Mike in the Morning" shows. ESPN has a prominent website, with content on essentially every sport worth watching and following. Just as Lubbock was saying, the two have formed a symbiotic relationship. Fans of The Herd and Mike and Mike can become internet fans of The Herd and Mike and Mike. The relationship has paid immediate dividends; "The Herd" is one of the leading sports shows on the airwaves, while "Mike and Mike", a show hosted by TV and radio host Mike Greenberg and former NFL player Mike Golic, is a widely-followed radio and TV program.

CBS has also showed an interesting way to go about the radio and internet merger. CBS Radio has undoubtedly become a leader on the airwaves, and its website proclaims it to be "one of the largest major-market operators in the United States." And yet, while CBS has had so much success both in radio and television, it has gone the extra distance to create an impressive website that includes broadcast, HD streaming and not only includes its own content, but merges with AOL Radio to present an even wider selection of radio genres and topics. Unlike ESPN, however, CBS doesn't put access to the online radio on its site as easily, forcing an interested user to have to look for CBS Radio separately. Searching on Google is obviously an easy step to take, but if the overall goal is to get users used to going to the radio, it's a step that CBS might be interested in eliminating.

These two companies show the use of internet to help publicize its radio content. Relatively smaller companies, like WBUR, use radio to remain prominent, while larger companies like CBS and ESPN use the internet to widen their reach. Lubbock said that unimedia is becoming the next big thing for the radio, and it appears he's right.

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